Posts Tagged With: Burma


I celebrate every gift I get. This one is a biggie. I believe  Berkeley, CA was the first city to ban plastic bags in grocery stores. San Francisco followed.  Coastal North Carolina did the same. Now, Seattle follows Bellingham, WA  but their ban does more.

The Seattle City Council passed a broad ban on plastic bags Monday, outlawing them not just in grocery stores, but in department stores, clothing stores, convenience stores, home-improvement stores, food trucks and farmers markets.

The bill goes further than bans in other cities, which have largely banished plastic only groceries and sometimes drug stores. Customers in Seattle will still be able to get paper bags from retailers, but for a 5-cent fee.

Monday’s bill exempts customers on food assistance and other government benefits from the bag fee. The city will also make free or reduced-cost reusable bags available to poor people.

The ordinance applies only to single-use, checkout bags, and not to produce, bulk-ban and dry-cleaning bags. Plastic bags for take-out restaurant food are also still allowed, because they help protect health and safety while transporting hot food and liquid.

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I shop with my own bags and my little grocery store, Sierra Hills Market,  will reward you with a $25 gift certificate, for using your own shopping bag. People who use their own bags are allowed to mark their name and phone number on a small paper by the checkstand and put it in the draw box. I’ve won the certificate, once. I regularly see about four others using their own bags.

A chain grocer in nearby Angels Camp tried the “recycle” your plastic bags idea. The container was always stuffed full of plastic bags and was emptied regularly in the dumpster. The bags are cheaply made, tear easily, don’t hold much and the only person I ever saw taking recycled bags on their way into the grocery store was-ME.  It just doesn’t change habits.

“A study a few years ago “found that the inks and colorants used on some bags contain lead, a toxin. Every year, Americans throw away some 100 billion plastic bags after they’ve been used to transport a prescription home from the drugstore or a quart of milk from the grocery store. It’s equivalent to dumping nearly 12 million barrels of oil.”

So, I celebrate it as a gift to our common environment. I’ve seen pictures of animals entrapped and dying from plastic bags drifting into their environment. And, just a reminder, there is a huge glob of plastic bags the size of the state of Texas in the ocean vortex where water circulates and keeps  miles of  plastic  afloat.  Other countries have banned bags in some cities.  Mexico City, twelve towns in Australia, Rangoon, Burma, Five major cities in India, London, Rawanda, the whole country is bag free.

It seems to me this is an opportunity for college students across the country to collectively  push for plastic bag bans in their communities. Hey, they know how to solve the deficit.  Over and again, they have proved to be smarter, and more effective than our do nothing government.

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Myanmar, which used to be Burma, is surrounded by Thailand, China, Laos, India and the Bay of Bengal. It has only recently been opened for limited tourism after a long period of isolation. It is probably the least changed Asian country, though the people here tend to dress in western clothing. Panu expedited our border crossing into the town of Tachilek, took care of our passports, got them stamped and zoom, we were in. While waiting I photographed this guy on a motor scooter carrying a mattress on a trailer over the bridge and into Myanmar. The motor scooter is the cheapest and most common method of transportation for the average person in all of these countries.

Shoulder poles to carry goods are much in evidence here, something rarely seen in Thailand.

Common market items dried persimmons and chestnuts.

This well dressed gent with his cheeroot passed by me before I could get a good focus on him.
Dog meat in the market place was a distasteful, yet compelling sight for us.

These old singers have been here for many, many years, no doubt.
We took a walk through the town headed for the rickshaw station. We stopped at this school. Notice the outdoor toilet out in back.
The playground had tire swings, a dirt yard and a bamboo made climbing apparatus.
These children on the streets looked to be playing a dice game without the dice. They would throw down the rinds or bones and scramble for the winning throw, chattering madly the whole while. Notice the Mickey Mouse shirt.
Children happily run a stick over an old tire and roll it along expertly.
The children seem healthy but this is a poor country. This woman was attending her washing next to her house.
We reached the rickshaw station and loaded into motorized rickshaws for a ride to the Shan Temple.
At the temple, we paid 30 baht to a young girl or boy to take us through the temple rituals. Many women and girls paint their faces with a chalky powder for the beauty of it. This was the only boy I saw painted thus. He approached me with flowers and a small bamboo cage with a live bird in it.
Everyone in our group was individually led to the particular shrine that relates to their birth. For me, the year of the dragon, Wednesday.
You place the flowers, pour water over several effigies, three times, then release the bird as I am doing above. The bird flew away so fast, the child could not get its picture.
Then you return to the temple bell and ring it three times and your ritual is complete. From there you can go inside to pray where there are Budda from India, China and Thailand.
The huge Shan Temple above.
We returned to Thailand and loaded into farmer La Valles truck for a long dusty, bumpy drive into the mountains for a lovely outdoor lunch.

Fresh tilapia or chicken was on the menu along with some wonderful mystery stew that was delicious.
Innovation is always on display in these countries. The flower pot sink and below that,  the paint job on the mens.

When we loaded back into the truck, the driver cut me pieces of bamboo to cook on at home. This farmer/artist enhances income by allowing tourists on the farm.
From Thailand, one can see across the Mekong River a small section of Loas. Many people stray over there without a passport because the town is remote from government and the people need the income for the stuff they sell.
We began our boat tour and stopped for a short half hour in Loas. Here a sign greeted us in the market.

The tiger penis in whiskey. Next to it a jar with two cobras also marinated in whiskey.
It tasted like whiskey with an odd flavor. Not anything I could compare it to. I figured the whiskey would preserve anything in it. Hey, they have worms in tequilla. I guess you can tell this isn’t Kansas.
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